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SWEET N SOUR FOR WOLVES; FA CUP: DONCASTER 2 WOLVES 2: Doncaster reaction to Elokobi dismissal mars thrilling game.

Byline: Bill Howell

"AND the man at the back said everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz".

Sweet. Or not, as the case may be. Had George Elokobi done what he did to James Coppinger at 1am in 'Flares', 'Legends', 'Heroes', 'The Canal Club', or 'Mezzanine' then he'd have had a dozen bouncers and the police on his tail.

If he had charged at the Doncaster midfielder on the dance floor of the newly-opened 'New York New York' club, 'The Beach', or perhaps 'The Planet', then you'd understand ten of the fallen bloke's pals getting all hot under the collar and wanting a word in his ear.

But he didn't. The barrel-chested one, whose biggest crime to this point had perhaps been to wear slightly too pointier a pair of shoes, thundered into Coppinger like all good defenders used to do: eyes on the ball, gloriously oblivious to the pain that might come his or his opponent's way should he mistime it. And didn't he just mistime this one. The key word here being: 'just'.

All hell broke loose. One or two Rovers players and even the home bench sniffed the chance of a sending off should they complain to the officials with gusto. They produced a pantomime performance of cacophonous villains that would have made Christopher Biggins or Lionel Blair seem positively demure. So George had to go.

In days gone by, when men were men and footballers weren't so unsporting, it wouldn't have been a card. But times have moved on.

In days gone by Matt Jarvis wouldn't have dropped to his knees as if the aforementioned Biggins had jumped on his shoulders. But it was in the penalty area and in today's world was a penalty.

In times gone by Nenad Milijas' shot might have dribbled towards the goalline. But we don't kick a pig's bladder any more and this Umbro variety fizzed into the top corner from 30 yards like an Exocet homing in on a foreign ship.

The Serbian's missile really should have been the talk of the tie. Or for that matter Billy Sharp or James Hayter's clinical finishes, although the latter's volley came about after some poor marking and a poor attempted headed clearance by Elokobi (there's a thread developing here).

When the dust settled on the dust-up, the spot-kick, the two superbly-taken home strikes and the Goal of the Season contender (although Dave Jones' free-kick against Stoke may still pip it) then a replay was about the right result.

And the softly-spoken Sean O'Driscoll gets a touchline box seat at his beloved Molineux instead of having to shell out for a corporate one.

Not that a replay is too bad for Wolves either. If nothing else Elokobi's three-match ban, which rules him out of the return match together with Saturday's trip to Manchester City and the visit of Liverpool, offers Mick McCarthy an aspirin to a potential headache that was facing him.

Stephen Ward had been his best player against Blues and Liverpool with an abundance of honest industry up front. But the return of Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher and the form of Stephen Hunt had limited Ward's options. Now he'll have the No.3 shirt all to himself.

'A replay is the last thing we want', trots out every manager even before kick-off. Utter tripe.

Wolves, unlike a handful of top-flight teams, remain in the hat.

The extra game could be useful to Doyle or Fletcher as they search for sharpness, and could be invaluable to the likes of Jody Craddock or Karl Henry who are both knocking on the door again after long absences.

It also gives McCarthy the chance to have another look at teenage rookie Matt Doherty who did enough here to suggest a fruitful future lies ahead. And Marcus Hahnemann, slightly unfortunate to lose his league spot in the first place, will get the chance to dust off his gloves once again. Aside from the ugly hounding of the offi-cial for the red card, this was a proper cup tie: the minnow taking the game to the giant with chances at both ends.

But the dismissal left a sour taste, or more accurately, the actions of some Rovers players in the aftermath of the challenge, left the effect of a mouthful of rhubarb or beetroot on the tongue. Wolves, in general, played well enough to get the win but paid the price for errors - just as they have in every other game over the last nine in a campaign littered with almost immeasurable highs and bone-crunching sorrow. Richard Stearman continued his fine recent form, the sort of performances which earn a player a new contract.

Christophe Berra, minus one switch-off when he allowed Hayter to sneak in behind, was similarly impressive, Milijas blossomed after his goal, David Jones, Hunt and Jarvis had their moments as too did Ward and Fletcher, with the latter finally making his mark, despite early tap-ins, since his summer move.

Negatives? The hamstring which befell Dave Edwards in the first half. And - at the risk of over-egging the pudding - the melee. "Oh yeah, it was electric, so frightfully hectic And the band started leaving, 'cause they all stopped breathing. It was like lightning, everybody was frightening.

And the music was soothing, and they all started grooving It's, it's a ballroom blitz, it's a ballroom blitz ."

How did you rate Wolves? Send your comments to: Your Shout, Sports Desk, Birmingham Mail, Floor 6, Fort Dunlop, Fort Parkway, Birmingham B24 9FF. Freephone fax: 0800 1382621. Freephone: 0800 138 2555. Email: your.shout@birminghammail.net.

RATEDHowThey WOLVES (4-4-2) HAHNEMANN..................6 Downgraded to the Cup keeper and did well, although no chance with either goal.

DOHERTY........................6 A steady debut for the teenager who grew into the game after nervy start.

STEARMAN.....................7 Won't have enjoyed seeing Billy Sharp streak clear of him for opener but another good game.

BERRA............................7 Perhaps the man most at fault for the second goal but he enjoyed a reasonable afternoon.

ELOKOBI.........................6 Thundered into Coppinger, which gave the referee something to think about.

JARVIS............................6 Won a dubious penalty on the edge of the area and could have won it late on.

EDWARDS.......................5 Hamstring injury, not thought to be too bad, put paid to his afternoon after just 28 minutes.

MILIJAS.......................8 A 30-yard crackerjack put the icing on a confident all-round display.

HUNT..............................6 Not nearly as effective as he was against Chelsea but deserves credit for clinical penalty.

FLETCHER.......................6 Set up Ward in first minute and thereafter signs that he's got to grips with what's expected.

WARD.............................6 His header almost won it, the usual unshirking workrate mixed in with some nice touches.

SUBSTITUTES: Jones (for Edwards, 28): Gets an assist for that two-yard pass to Milijas, thereafter slotted in well.......................7 Doyle (for Fletcher, 69): Valuable addition, particularly with Wolves down to ten men...................................6 Not used: Hennessey, Batth, Mujangi-Bia, Davis, Winnall.

DONCASTER (4-4-2): Sullivan; Chambers (Friend, 64), Lockwood, O'Connor, Mills; Coppinger, Wilson, Hird, Oster; Hayter (Brooker, 90), Sharp. Subs: G Woods, M Woods, Webster, Fairhurst.

SENDING-OFF: Elokobi (foul, 77) - Wolves.

BOOKINGS: Oster (foul, 50), Sullivan (dissent, 76) - Rovers. Milijas (not retreating, 33) - Wolves.

CROWD WATCH.................................7 As many as 2,000 made the trip to the delightfully plastic Keepmoat. Attendance: 8,616.

REF WATCH.......................................5 A Taylor (Cheshire): Influenced by the home crowd, players and bench.

THE MANAGER..................................7 Still in the hat.

GAME RATING...................................8 Chances at both ends.

INJURY WATCH Dave Edwards (hamstring). WHO'S NEXT UP FOR WOLVES? Manchester City (a) Saturday, 3pm.

CAPTION(S):

Cup cracker: Nenad Milijas celebrates after opening the scoring for Wolves. Keep ball: Doncaster's' Billy Sharp finds himself outnumbered by Wolves players during the FA Cup third-round tie at the Keepmoat Stadium.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 10, 2011
Words:1298
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